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Power Supplies For Building Services Engineering

Earthing of Power

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„ Connections to earth
„ Types of system earthing
„ Earthing system in Hong Kong
„ Earth electrode

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„ BS7430:1998
„ EMSD : Code of Practice for the Electricity
(Wiring) Regulations, 1997
„ F. Porges, “The design of electrical
services for buildings”, 1989
„ IEE Wiring Regulations : amended 16th
Edition, Dec.1994 (BS7671)
„ J.C.F. Wong, “Low Voltage Electrical
Installation Handbook”, 1992
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1.0 Introduction
„ Power Supply to urban areas (HV):
™11kV via Delta/Star connected Tx (up to
™ HV Supply cable : 3-core Al paper insulated,
lead-sheathed and double steel tape armoured.
„ Building (LV) :
™ 380/220V
™ 3-phase 4-wire distribution winding
™ 3-phase or single-phase

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1.0 Introduction
„ The primary purposes of the earthing
system of a building are to ensure that a safe
environment is maintained for the occupants
and to protect equipment from damage in
the event of a fault.

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2.0 Connections to Earth

„ Low voltage system earthing
™ Power generation, transmission and distribution
„ Low voltage equipment earthing
™ Control of undesirable static electricity
„ Earthing of lightning protection system
™ Lightning protection
„ Functional earthing of equipment
™ Telecommunications
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2.0 Connections to Earth
Types Purposes
1. Low voltage system earthing z As reference potential
z Protect insulation under fault condition
z As return path for leakage current

2. Low voltage equipment z Complete circuit loop for each fault currents
earthing z Reduce touch voltage (in some cases)
z Prevent electric shock
3. Earthing of lightning z Short-circuit protected structure
protection system z Provide low resistance path for streamer
4. Functional earthing of z Communication path
equipment • As signalling path
• Reduce noise and cross-talks
• Stabilise battery potential and equipment potential
• Prevent electric shock
z Computer earth
• Reduce interference
• Stabilise equipment potential with respect to earth

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3.0 System Earthing

„ System Earthing :
™ Installation + Source : Electrical System
™ Essential to the proper operation of the system
™ At least one point of a system is earthed
™ Preserve security of system
™ Protect associated electrical plant
™ Potential of each conductor restricted to a value
™ No conductor may rise to a potential greater than the
insulation rating
™ Direct connection to earth of the neutral (N) of a 3-
phase system or one pole of a single-phase system at
the supply source

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3.0 System Earthing

„ Common or separate earths for LV system and
Tx ? (Common earth : coupling between HV and
LV systems)
„ Consider :
™ Probability of breakdown of Tx between HV and LV.
z Reduced by the use of common earth
™ Safety of human and property due to the potential
raised by the resultant HV fault current.
z Only arises if the resistance of earth connection is not low
enough (rare because earth electrode ≤ 1 Ω)
z Earth electrode : sized to withstand the HV fault current

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3.0 System Earthing

„ Local power companies
™ Tx substation earth bar : bonded the armouring
of HV supply cables and metalwork
™ Additional connection to earth : earth rod
installed along HV cable trenches bonded to
cable armouring and the earth bar
™ Tx neutral : connected to earth bar Îsystem
earth connection

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3.0 System Earthing

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3.0 System Earthing

„ Earth electrode system
™ Only return path for HV fault currents
™ Theoretical maximum current of a HV earth fault ≈
18.4 kA [i.e. 350 MVA at 11kV (3-phase)]
„ Actual earthing system
™ Complex including finite resistance of HV supply cable
armouring and/or sheath, system earth electrodes and
other earth connections
™ ∴ Actual current carried by LV << Theoretical
™ But, HV earth fault possible consequences on step and
touch voltage adjacent to LV earth electrode system

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3.0 System Earthing
„ For withstanding thermal effects in the
earth electrode system (if it is the only return
for HV fault currents) :
™ HV system earth electrode resistance
™ Characteristics of overcurrent protection of HV
System, e.g. inverse time characteristic (fuses
or relays)

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4.0 Equipment Earthing

„ Electrical system :
™ Concerns the safety of personnel and plant
™ A key function of equipment earthing is to
provide a controlled method to prevent the
build up of static electricity, thus reducing the
risk of electrical discharge in potentially
hazardous environments.
™ Generally, a resistance to earth of less than 106
W will ensure safe dissipation of static
electricity in all situations.

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4.0 Equipment Earthing
„ Hong Kong :
™ Many of exposed parts of fixed equipment :
metallic (switchboards, conduits, motor
frames, …)
„ Earthing :
™ ensure the safety of human life, animals and
ÎEquipment Earthing

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4.0 Equipment Earthing

X = bonding conductor between system earth and equipment earth (consumer’s earth) terminals.

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4.0 Equipment Earthing
„ Effective and rapid operation of protective device
in the event of earth fault current.
„ Protect against danger to life through shock due to
the exposed metalwork of the installation
„ Against electric shock and fire risk : earthed
equipotential bonding and automatic
disconnection of supply
„ Electricity Supply Regulations : Equipment
Earthing Ö little mentioned

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5.0 Functional Earthing

„ Separate earthing for functional purposes
„ Telecommunications and
computer installations
„ Earthing on power side for electricity safety
„ Signal grounding for noise-free operation
of electronics and subsequent reliability
„ To limit voltage rise of voltage
transient spikes on equipment earthing
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5.0 Functional Earthing
„ LV earth and functional earth connections :
keep away to each other
„ ∴ No any independent functional
earthing electrodes
„ International Telegraph and
Telephone Consultative Committee (CCITT)
manual : operation requirements

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5.0 Functional Earthing

„ Safety of human being
„ Protection of equipment
„ Legal requirements
„ Reduce cross-talks and noise

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5.0 Functional Earthing
„ Difficulties
™ Uncontrolled connections and galvanic
couplings of various earth electrode
™ Fire and danger to human life due to the
potential difference of various earth electrodes
™ Currents flow through metal structures and
cause corrosion.

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5.0 Functional Earthing

„ Solution Principle :
™ Keep all points earthed at the SAME potential
™ Either Star or Mesh configuration

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5.0 Functional Earthing
„ Solutions
™ Star-shaped configurations
z Reduce circulating currents
™ Mesh configuration
z Increase effective conductor cross section for currents flowing
towards the earth and no excessive voltage drops
™ Ring type earth collector
z More practical and effective than bar type
z Easier and safer
™ Data processing equipment
z Prevent connecting to remote earths
z Because a noise and surge path introduced

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6.0 Types of System Earthing

„ First letter
™ Earthing arrangement at the source of energy
(Supply side)

T Direct connection of one or more points to

I All live parts isolated from earth or one point
connected to earth through an impedance

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6.0 Types of System Earthing
„ 5 Common types of electrical system
™ TN-S
™ TN-C
™ TN-C-S
™ TT
™ IT

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6.1 TN-S System

„ A system have a separate neutral
conductor and a separate protective earth
conductor, the latter may be the metallic
cover of the cable or a separate conductor.
™ Protective conductor (PE)
z The metallic covering of the cable supplying the
installations or a separate conductor
™ Exposed conductive parts connected to PE via
the main earthing terminal of the installation.

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Types of Electrical Systems

by means of combination arrangement of earth connections at source

and at load.

Each type of system is identified by 2 capital letters.

The first letter denotes the earthing arrangement at the source of energy
(supply side), and

T = direct connection of one or more points to earth

I = all live parts isolated from earth or one point connected to earth
through an impedance

The second letter denotes the relationship of the exposed conductive

parts of the installation to earth (load side), and

T = direct electrical connection of the exposed conductive parts to earth,

independently of the earthing of any point of the source of
energy (independent earth)

N = direct electrical connection of the exposed conductive parts to the

earthed point of the source of energy. For a. c., it is usually
the neutral point (dependent earth)

A third and/ or a fourth letter are/is designated to each TN system to

identify the relationship of the above electrical earth connection with
neutral and protective conductors

S = neutral and protective functions provided by separate conductors

C = neutral and protective functions combined in a single conductor

Based on the definitions of T, I, N, S, C, try to draw the

systems; and compare your answer with those diagrams in

the following pages.

Both H. K. Electric Co. and China Light & Power Co.

recommend the use of TT system for their low voltage

supply. But C.O.P. of EMSD makes installations perform

effectively as TN-S systems in HK.

6.1 TN-S System

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6.1 TN-S System

Characteristics „ Low earth loop impedance
„ High earth fault current
Advantages „ Fast operation of earth fault protective devices
„ Maintain earth continuity when a main earth is broken (earth
provided at consumer side)
„ Cost saving for earth fault relays in smaller installations

Disadvantages „ Higher earth fault level

„ Earth fault has a low power factor of fault current

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6.4 TT System
„ A system having one point of the source
of energydirectly earthed, the exposed
conductive parts of the installation being
connection to other electrodes electrically
independent of the earth electrodes of the
™ Exposed conductive parts connected to an earth
electrode (electrically independent of the source
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6.4 TT System

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6.4 TT System
Characteristics „ High earth loop impedance
„ Low earth fault current
„ Power companies do not provide earthing for consumers

Advantages „ Earth fault has a better power factor of fault current

„ Saves bonding conductor
Disadvantages „ Earth fault relays are frequently required
„ Incurs cost of separate earth
„ Higher touch voltage
„ Create step voltage

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6.5 IT System
„ A system having no direct
connection between live parts and earth, the
exposed conductive parts of the installation
being earth.
™ Exposed conductive parts connected to an earth
™ Source connected to earth via earthing
impedance or isolated from earth.

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Draw path of Earth Fault Current in TN-C System. It utilizes the neutral as its
return path. As performance of earth fault relay assume earth fault current
cannot return through the CTs of the relay. Therefore, the return of fault current
to the neutral may affect operation of the E/F relay.
7.0 Earthing System in Hong Kong

„ EMSD : Code of Practice for the Electricity

(Wiring) Regulations
™ Installation protected by its own electrodes
™ Main earthing terminal of installation bonded to
the earthing facilities of the power company
z Supply by transformer
‹ A bonding terminal provided at supply side
z Supply by underground cable
‹ Exposed conductive parts of the underground supply

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7.0 Earthing System in Hong Kong

„ Hong Kong earthing arrangement

™ Combination of TT and TN-S system
z Direct from power company’s transformers
z Supplied from underground cable with exposed
conductive part at the cable termination
™ TT system (Rare)
z Supplied by overhead lines
z Supplied from underground cable without exposed
conductive part at the cable termination

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8.0 Earth Electrode
„ Design criteria of earth electrode system
™ Impedance or resistance of the connection to
™ Thermal capacity
™ Potential gradients around electrodes
™ Mechanical strength and resistance to corrosion

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8.0 Earth Electrode

Earth rod Earth rod –

Taper Coupling

Earth rod – Earth rod

Driving Head

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9.0 Earth Equipment

The schematic above illustrates the key elements of an effective earthing system.
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9.0 Earth Equipment

Above ground, copper, aluminum and steel may be used. Below ground,
copper is the most common choice due to its high resistance to corrosion.
It is important that earthing conductors should be correctly sized for
their application, as they may be required to carry a considerable current
for several seconds

Circuit Protective Conductor

A conductor that is installed in order to provide a guaranteed earth return path for an individual
circuit. Thereby ensuring fast disconnection times.

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9.0 Earth Equipment
Bonding Conductors
Conductors that are installed to electrically link items
of metalwork within a building thereby ensuring that
an earth fault has a minimum return resistance. Further
divided into Equipotential Bonding and
Supplementary Bonding. Adequate bonding ensures
fast disconnection times and that the touch voltage
between metalwork does not exceed 50volts. Electrical
bonding may be carried out by a range of means
depending upon the type of building and
equipment installed.
Common means of linking steel frameworks and
equipment is with the use of earthing strap
or separate conductors connected together using lugs
and nuts & bolts.
Pipework, conduits etc. may be bonded using custom
earth clips.

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9.0 Earth Equipment

Earth rods and plates or any combination are used to achieve an
effective earth depending on the site conditions.
Earth rods take advantage of lower resistivity soils at greater depths than
normal excavation will allow.
Earth plates are used to attain an effective earth in shallow soils with
underlying rocks or in locations with large amounts of buried services. They
can also provide protection at potentially dangerous places e.g. HV
switching positions.

Earth Plate - Solid (Copper) Earth Plate – Lattice (Copper)

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9.0 Earth Equipment
Connectors and terminations
Joints and connections with a good electrical conductivity with high mechanical strength will
provide an effective earthing system. Poorly chosen or badly installed joints and connectors can
compromise the safe operation of an earthing system.

Exothermic welding connector

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9.0 Earth Equipment

Compression connectors
It produce very robust joints which can be buried in the ground or in
concrete. They are ideal for use in situations where exothermic welding
is not appropriate and periodic disconnection is not required.

Earthing inspection pit

Inspection pits allow easy access to earth electrodes
and conductors to facilitate this procedure.

Mechanical clamps
Where permanent connections are not appropriate, mechanical clamps
offer the ideal solution. These are typically used on smaller scale
installations where periodic disconnection for testing is required.

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9.0 Earth Equipment
Earth bars
An efficient and convenient way of providing a common earth point.
Integral disconnecting links mean the earth bars can be isolated for
testing purposes.

Soil conditioning agents

Soil conditioning agents are to be used in areas where required
resistivity levels are difficult to achieve. When used as a backfill for
earth electrodes, soil conditioning agents effectively act to increase the
electrodes surface area thus lowering its resistance to earth.

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9.0 Earth Equipment

Earthing strip

Earthing tape clamp

Earth resistance tester

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End of Topic

Thank you !

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